For the first time in its history, The Dow Chemical Company has partnered with Central Michigan University students on a public service announcement project that highlights the needs of veterans returning to higher education. CMU sophomore Lucy Ciaramitaro of South Lyon, Mount Clemens senior Erica Freckelton, Canadian Lakes senior Kaylin Knowles and Macomb senior Kortney Watts made up the team of integrative public relations majors who won the competition.
“Dow’s Public Affairs and Government Affairs organization has built a strong relationship with the integrative public relations program at CMU and recruits on campus for interns and full-time hires,” said Mary Klenk, communications specialist at The Dow Chemical Company. “When the campus recruiters met with IPR faculty members last summer, they brainstormed new ways for Dow and CMU to partner for the benefit of IPR students.”
As a result, Dow sponsored a public service announcement messaging competition for integrative public relations majors at CMU, where 1,000 active-duty military personnel and veterans are enrolled.
Two groups of four students were tasked with developing an effective public service announcement that informs veterans and their friends, families and classmates about the valuable resources available to them on CMU’s campus through the Veterans’ Resource Center, and throughout Michigan, including the Consortium of Michigan Veterans Educators. The winning team was chosen by vote after a public screening of their proposed PSAs.
“The PSA competition gave students the opportunity to put what they learned in the classroom into practice, work with industry professionals, and ultimately produce an original PSA for the benefit of a great organization,” Klenk said.
Will Anderson, associate professor in CMU’s School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts and faculty adviser for the contest said the students who participated did so on a purely volunteer basis.
“I saw the email and I immediately jumped on the idea because I was so excited,” team member Kaylin Knowles said. “It gave me some real life experience for my major and was a great opportunity. Not everyone’s experience at CMU is the same, and this ties in with the veterans.”
The competition created an opportunity for CMU students to work with Studio 2020, Dow Chemical’s internal production house, to create an effective communications campaign and have their work professionally produced. The winning team of students was able to visit the studio in Midland, Michigan earlier this spring semester to learn more about video production. Studio 2020 production specialists then came to campus and spent April 23 and 28 with the students to film scenes for the PSA.
“These students volunteered their Friday afternoons so we could meet and discuss issues veterans face when returning to college, and how we could craft public service announcements that inform veterans and the public about services available to them,” Anderson said. “It was a very cool experience working with a small group of highly motivated students, whom I have no doubt will become leaders in their field.”
Founded by CMU in 2010, the mission of the Consortium of Michigan Veteran Educators is to increase the number of service members and their families who take advantage of educational benefits available to them. Michigan’s 15 public universities and 28 community colleges work together to ensure that veterans enrolled in the state’s public postsecondary institutions receive the necessary support to successfully complete their program of study, gain employment and lead a productive life. Consortium staff also provide professional development opportunities and share best practices to better support the student veteran population.
The winning PSA produced by The Dow Chemical Company’s Studio 2020 is available for viewing here.